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Speak With Dead #12: Talking the Body Shop

necromancy Speak with Dead

Maxillae the Mad necromancy

Dear Maxillae The Mad,

After reading your response to my previous question, it got me thinking. I believe you are correct. I think some part of me just wanted someone to let me know that it is okay and I’m not a freak for wanting to switch from being a cleric, who heals people thereby stopping them from dying, to becoming a necromancer, who most people view as these horrible, evil people who enjoy death.

On a more interesting note, since my last post, I have been able to learn, and have used, the revivify spell. Not sure if you would consider that a necromancy spell or not, but it was interesting to be able to watch someone come back from the dead. Granted they had only been dead for less than a minute, but still.

I think I have finally decided to make the switch and become a full necromancer! Any advice for a new necromancer in training?

New necromancer-to-be,
Grim Everwood

Dear Grim,

I am deviously delighted to hear you’ve taken the first steps to a career in necromancy. You’re correct, I would not consider “revivify” to be proper necromancy, even if that’s how the scholars tend to class it. I’m not entirely sure why they never tapped restoration as its own school, but c’est la vie. [EDITOR’S NOTE: or c’est la mort? C’est la mort-vivant?!]

Even so, it does have some things in common with animating a zombie. Still, restoring proper life is leagues more difficult and it’s impressive that you can accomplish it, minute time limit or not.

As for advice, my very best is this: be true to your own craft and your own methods. People are going to tell you that there is one true way to stitch on a replacement limb or that you aren’t a real necromancer if you aren’t going pure arcane and that’s all bullocks. Just do what you feel is best for you and the rest will fall in line. I am eagerly awaiting to hear more and how this goes for you.


Maxillae the Mad


Dear Maxillae the Mad,


necromancy Speak with Dead
A ghost as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
I am a recently deceased individual, or what some might refer to as a ghost. I’ve had a hard time coping as a ghost. It’s disconcerting that I don’t need sleep, I miss enjoying things living beings do like eating and feeling the warmth of the sun on one’s skin. I figured you’d be knowledgeable enough to tell me what one does for fun after becoming a ghost. I’ve tried haunting people but the fun of that wears off fast. I’m currently possessing someone to write and post this letter to you. This seems to have some enjoyment but I’m unimaginative and not sure what to do beyond that.



Gunther the unimaginative Ghost

P.S. if you want to use my body to add your undead horde it’s in a ditch outside the town that’s marked on the return address. No one else is probably going to get any use out of it.


Dear Gunther,

It is easily possible for you to possess objects as well as people, and it sounds as though if your body is still a body and not a skeleton you’ve had a very easy time of becoming a skilled spirit. I’m impressed with your advanced haunting techniques.

Allow me to suggest playing the long game. Find someone with a problem with taking themselves too seriously and slowly, a little bit at a time take them down a peg by hiding their possessions and getting just a little bit involved to make them lose bets. It’s hilarious.

Alternatively, if you would prefer a more physical position, meet me by your body in a week’s time from the moment this article goes live and I will re-bind you to your physical form. You should be capable of coming back as a revenant. Typically people do not end up in ditches that died of natural causes. We’d have fun.


Maxillae the Mad


Dear Maxillae the Mad,

In my experience, necromancers (or necromancer aspirants) typically only care about their horde of undead. I’ve noticed that even you have talked about the numbers under your control. I would prefer a different approach, if it all possible.

My question is this: How would one go about creating a single, powerful, skilled undead? I’m not looking for anything intelligent, as your former vampire questioner might be concerned, but simply one undead that could act as a sort of enforcer. After all, it doesn’t need to be intelligent, it just needs to follow directions. It just seems to me that one undead of greater strength could be more beneficial than an army of weaker undead in certain circumstances, and I believe I have found myself in such circumstances. It had occurred to me that I could try a bone golem, but it didn’t feel like true necromancy.

I look forward to your response,


Dear Highlander,

speak with dead
A flesh golem as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
My best suggestion would be to turn to a selection of scientific means. It is far more possible to generate strength and speed out of your zombie this way. Also consider making a flesh golem. Those tend to be much more durable than your standard undead and you can take donations from pretty much anything. That is, if using flesh is enough for you to get around your hang ups about the “not true necromancy” thing.

If it were me, I’d start with a giant and work enchantments into the flesh. It’s going to take more than one school of magic to make it really something special but if you’re dead set on only having one grand creation at your fingertips and you want to make it the absolute best it can be you’re going to need to be more than a one trick pony.

Please keep me informed on this as you progress. I’m interested in talking shop about it farther.


Maxillae the Mad


Do you have a question for Maxillae the Mad?

Please, if you have anything you would like to inquire of our resident necromancer, leave your inquisitions in the comments below or simply tweet out to #SpeakWithDead and have your questions answered!



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Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Megan R. Miller lives in southern Ohio where she keeps mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. She has a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and she is happy to be owned by a black cat. Her fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.
Speak With Dead #11: Two Allies and an Idiot
Speak With Dead #13: Brain Food

4 thoughts on “Speak With Dead #12: Talking the Body Shop

  1. Dear Maxillae The Mad,
    Just to update you, my medusa girlfriend read your article and figured out what I was planning before I could do anything. She petrified my assistant (My sister is super upset with ME over that. He was her third favorite son). She almost succeeded in petrifying me, but I managed to escape, or so I thought. She is employing the services of a diviner and a conjuror to find me and teleport rather dangerous beings to my location. I can’t return to my lab, my library, or any of my homes or hideouts. I’ve had to utilize vast resources to try and stay ahead of the three of them. I’d like your help in making amends to my girlfriend. What should I do? What can I do? I can’t keep living like this.
    No longer anonymous and jealous.

  2. Dear Maxillae the Mad,

    There’s been a lot of really in-depth technical and moral questions here over the past few months. My question’s a little bit different: What do you do for fun? Assuming necromancy is your “profession,” surely you wouldn’t spend all your downtime doing it as well? And it doesn’t seem like mindless undead would make for good company. What do you do to relax?


  3. Dear Maxillae The Mad,

    My group is keeping the shiny pretties from me! We go out and we do things for the human folk with all kinds of glinty goodies, but when we get the things my groupies don’t give me none. I tell them, I says, Kava does all of the work! Kava has all the knives. ALL OF THEM! I says that I make more people ascared of us because I’m so good with the knives. But they says NO! They says Kava would just hurt herself like when she lit the barn on fire. I gets the coins, but none of the pretty rocks! they’re keeping them all for themselves and I don’t know what to do! People say you help, so you help!


  4. Dear Maxillae The Mad,

    I think I might be dead? My friends all kind of seem to be ignoring me and giving me the cold shoulder. The problem is I’m too scared to try to ask one of them because I might find out that I’m actually dead! Are there any tips you could give to help someone determine if they’re still alive?


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